In celebration of the launch of their flagship store in Melbourne’s Emporium we recently had five minutes with Athan Didaskalou and Richard Li, the team behind July, a sophisticated luggage range for the modern traveller. Designed here in Melbourne, the July luggage range uses good, functional design to overcome some of the most common flaws in modern luggage options. Our favourite features are the removable USB-C charger, highly adjustable handle, and custom-designed wheels which you can trust not to break halfway across the world. Partnering with ODO, they have succeeded in creating a range of beautiful, practical and durable luggage and a flagship store to match!
MM: How design influences your decisions about July?
July was born out of the idea we could fix a broken industry with better design. The travel accessories industry is broken; often they make it as cheap as possible, use a plethora of wholesalers and distributors to sell them, and ignore all connection with the customer.
Our design solution was simple; read +4000 reviews of existing cases and fix what was wrong; better reinforcement of corners and bends, a better business model around trials and warranty, and simpler ways to connect with the brand.
What resulted was what we designed in our first signature product, the July Carry On. We created our own curve for the case, giving the edges a more eggshell feel and better bounce back on hard impact, and reinforced the corners with aluminium. We designed more enjoyable moments during busy travel periods on the surfaces you interact with: soft touch handles, multi-height handle with +20 different comfort heights, and even an ejectable USB-C power-bank that charges devices. We made them all with the quality of the luxury brands, but kept the retail price low. High quality means we can offer things like a lifetime warranty, making it easy for customers to invest into their first July.
Creating higher-quality longer-lasting products at a fraction of the traditional price points thanks to our direct-to-consumer model means we are giving people of all economic situations the opportunity to own luggage that lasts a lifetime and stops the cycle of single use travel accessories.
MM: Who/What are you most influenced by?
I am often inspired by the brands and products I use around me every day, particularly cookware and clothing. I use the same Fissler pan every morning to cook breakfast for the family, it’s just perfectly weighted and designed to take a beating. It’s not meant to look pretty, it’s made to be used a lot, and the Germans just have a knack for perfection here. I admire brands that produce locally and focus on the small details. I’ve really admired what Kloke do and their artistic and philosophy around their products.
MM: How would you describe your style?
I love things that look and feel lived in, like they’ve enjoyed their own life. Especially when it comes to spaces to be in. Often when spaces feel too new and minimal, with too many stone surfaces, there’s no warmth or love present.
I love coming home and knowing that things aren’t perfect - that the marks on our table remind me of dinner parties we’ve shared with our friends and family, and what’s on the walls has meaning and refreshes the mind on what’s important. This comes from investing in fewer, better things and embracing them for a lifetime. From your cookware, to your furniture, and of course, your luggage. Better quality for a lifetime of use.
MM: What’s the most enjoyable part of doing what you do?
To be able to create a product from scratch, around a problem you want to solve and personally face, in an industry you love being a part of. It makes for an enjoyable outlook to work and life.
Travel affords us new perspectives and experiences, and it’s just damn fun to do. Creating a brand that aims to solve the problems in that world, and make travel more seamless, with a team who can bring new ideas to life, makes the everyday exciting at July.
MM: What's your favourite thing about Melbourne?
People say it’s one of the most livable, but I definitely feel it’s also the most lovable. A mix of global influences has made Melbourne a cultural collective, focused on delivering experiences and making our hometown of the most interesting in the world. But if I had to boil it down, I feel like the food experiences and the tennis are probably what I love the most.
MM: Can you recommend a good cafe/restaurant?
This is my favourite topic. I actually met Richard, July’s co-founder, at ACoffee in Collingwood, so I would definitely recommend there as they have a beautiful aesthetic and the profile of coffees to match.
For restaurants and bars I have a favourite little dinner hop I tell everyone visiting Melbourne to try and do on their first night out; Begin with a bottle of wine and oysters and starters at Embla at the bar, then head to Tipo00 to try the best handmade pasta in Australia, followed by a walk over to Bar Margaux for creme brulee dessert and a few cocktails in good company. It’s the best introduction to Melbourne.
MM: What are the plans for the future?
We created July to be focused on creating better experiences when travelling. When you sit down and really look into where the stress of travelling is, a lot of it is in the preparation of travel - getting everything ready before you go. It made sense that a lot of people want to feel and experience the luggage, and leave with it on the spot. Retail is just another approach for us to be true to our experience values and making sure we deliver on the promise of seamless travel experiences. We’d love to open up a store in every city! The response so far has been amazing.